Mining sector woes continue

Problems affecting the country’s mining sector are continuing unabated as the global demand for diamonds is still low while other minerals metals are not contributing significantly to the economy.

Figures recently released by Statistics Botswana in its Indices of Physical Volume of Mining Production report indicated that the index of mining production stood at 90.2percent in the first quarter of 2016.

The latest figures show a negative year-on-year decline of 5.6percent from the 2015 first quarter with diamond production, which contributed negative 4.6percentage points, being the main least performing mineral.

Although less in weight, copper in concentrates also contributed to the overall index of mining production decline with negative 4.3 percent.

Copper-nickel-cobalt matte, soda ash and gold contributed positively to the overall mining production, with contributions of 2.8percentage points, 0.5 and 0.1 of a percentage point respectively during the first quarter of 2016.

“Notwithstanding their positive contribution to the overall index, the three minerals’ combined weight is insignificant to influence the overall year-on-year percentage change in the total mining production to positive growth,” reads part of the report.

Furthermore, diamond production shows the sixth consecutive year-on-year decrease, having declined by 5.3percent in the first quarter of 2016 as compared to the first quarter of 2015. Coal production also decreased by 9.8percent during the period under review due to low demand locally.

Production of both base metals and diamonds are yet to reach the satisfactory levels and China’s slow economic growth has been fingered as the main reason for decline in mineral sales.

Late last year, the Lobatse High Court issued a final liquidation order for Mowana Mine, situated in the northwestern part of Botswana and owned by African Copper (Pty) Ltd, resulting in the mine laying off 350 employees.

Mowana was affected by the lowest copper prices in the past seven years and had also forced the suspension of Thakadu Mine. Thakadu is Mowana’s sister operation which was suspended early last year.

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